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110 Years, Two Families: Meet the Stewards of Stewarts Coffee 

Let’s take a trip back in time to 1913. Europe was on the brink of war, with tensions between countries mounting, which would lead to the start of World War I in just one year. Henry Ford had just introduced the moving assembly line, a key step to the mass production of the automobile. The first transcontinental phone call took place, and commercial radio was still a few years in the future. And, in Chicago, William Stewart, founder and “great grandpa” of Stewarts Coffee, formulated his Private Blend Coffee and established a business that would become the city’s oldest family-owned coffee company. 

Not really a coffee drinker

After college, Joe Cappuccitti went into accounting, and his first audit in 1986 was with Stewarts. On his first visit, he was in the Stewarts kitchen when a man asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee. “My dad had always served us espresso and cappuccino,” Joe recalls, “but never a cup of brewed coffee. So, I answered honestly, ‘No – I’m not really a coffee drinker.’” 

As it turned out, the man who had offered Joe a cup was CEO Bill Stewart, which Joe discovered when he walked into his scheduled meeting. “The man running a very successful company was making the staff coffee,” Joe chuckles. Despite ‘not being a coffee drinker,’ Joe and Bill built an enduring, warm relationship—so much so that in the early 1990s, Bill hired Joe to handle the outside controller and accounting functions. 

The 1990s and early 2000s were a decade of generational transition. Brothers Bill and Don suffered declining health and subsequently passed away. “In early 2014,” Joe said, “I had the opportunity to take over the business—and I jumped at it.” 

Making Stewarts a family business – again

Around the same time, Joe’s son Joey was finishing up his college degree. He had already had a taste of the business—figuratively and literally—when he worked the Stewarts Serving Truck at events. “My high school got very involved in Relay for Life cancer events. We’d bring the truck to events, stay 6 am to 6 pm, and serve coffee to people walking around the track. I had such a fun time. Who would have thought that 10 years later, I’d have a chance to run the company with my dad?”

Joey had studied automotive tech and management, so he had business skills he could now put to use at the helm of Stewarts. He jumped in as Director of Sales and enjoys being a creative counterpart to Joe’s finance and accounting background. They both bring a great deal of passion to running the business—and that passion sometimes spills over. “Sometimes we end up arguing with each other, but it helps us find compromise and common ground,” Joe said. “I’m the ‘numbers guy’ and he might have an idea for packaging, and I bring the practicality of whether we can afford it or not.” 

The Cappuccittis have deep Chicago roots, just as the Stewarts did. Joe’s mother was born and raised on Taylor Street in Little Italy. Both enjoy going back to the “old neighborhood” for dinner at Pompei. Other Chicago favorites include Lou Malnati’s, Entenmann’s cheese Danish, and all Chicago’s sports teams, though their house is divided when it comes to Cubs vs. Sox. 

A legacy brand for a new generation

Cappuccittis share the roasting operation as well as duties including making the boxes, taking orders, and working on Project Donate. After the move, Joey created a mini museum in the front office, with artifacts from every decade of the country’s history. Seeing the cans from the 1910s and later has inspired them while they have been working on updated packaging. 

They are always thinking about balancing the legacy of the Stewarts name with how to appeal to today’s coffee drinkers. “It’s a challenge, because people have choice with coffee,” Joe said. “How do we get people to try Stewarts?” Joey added, “Once we got heavily into roasting and nailing the taste down, we found that in our favorite cup, we had recreated the 1913 blend. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to bring that to today’s coffee drinkers, because what’s the key to success for Stewarts over the last century? The product.”   

“Stewarts was selected as ‘Chicago’s Official Coffee’ for the 1933-34 World’s Fair. To get to continue this tradition is very special,” Joe emphasized. Joey added, “It’s an honor to be able to carry the company into the next 100 years.”   

And, as for ‘not being a coffee drinker,’ Joe has certainly learned to love a good cup over the last 37 years. “The only way I drink it is black. That’s how you can really tell if a cup of coffee is good. And ours is very good.” 

About Stewarts Coffee

Stewarts Coffee was established in 1913 by William A. Stewart on Chicago’s West Side—and for 100+ years has made some of America’s best coffee as the city’s oldest family-owned coffee company. This tradition dates back to the 1930s when Stewarts Private Blend Coffee was chosen as the “Official World’s Fair Coffee” during the Century of Progress World’s Fair held in Chicago. Today Stewarts’ passion to serve fine coffees and teas has employees traveling the world to bring customers the very best. Learn more at

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Crush Your Next Race or Workout: Your Guide to Using Caffeine to Enhance Athletic Performance

What if you could take a totally legal performance-enhancing drug and run a personal best, power your long bike ride, or crush your next workout? 

You can—and even better, it’s something you probably already had this morning: a cup of coffee.

The science behind caffeine and exercise

Multiple research studies have shown a strong connection between caffeine consumption and better athletic performance. The connection appears especially strong for endurance athletics—sports like distance running, rowing, cycling, and triathlons, among others. Caffeine has benefits for bouts of exercise as short as two minutes and as long as two hours. And it’s super effective: research has shown that it can improve performance by 3%. That’s like taking a full minute off your 5K race time! 

How? Many studies support the concept that coffee enhances endurance, increases power, and helps us sustain higher-intensity activity for longer periods of time. It’s why you can find caffeine in energy gels, chews, bars, and hydration mixes made specifically to power athletic performance.

Caffeine is also considered safe, as research has shown it does not cause negative effects on performance or lead to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance during exercise. While major sports bodies including the International Olympic Committee ban excessive use of caffeine, it’s effective at low doses, and even for habitual users (we’re looking at you, coffee lovers). Data even suggests that caffeine can help post-workout recovery. 

The benefits of caffeine in athletic performance

Caffeine activates certain areas of our brains while suppressing others. Think of its most frequent use: to help wake us up when we feel sleepy. This happens because caffeine blocks adenosine, which is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. It’s like a traffic signal that slows down other activities and signals in the brain when it’s time to rest. Caffeine effectively turns off the adenosine—so we feel less fatigue. 

This may explain how it helps us push past the unconscious limits our brains put on our bodies for physical exercise (this is called the “central governor theory” in exercise). When used correctly, caffeine can help to sustain strength and effort, improve reaction time, and increase power and precision. It can help us be stronger and go longer. 

How to use caffeine to fuel athletic performance

Caffeine takes effect between 30 to 60 minutes after you consume it. And, as anyone who has ever lost a night of sleep to a late-day cup of coffee knows all too well, caffeine can stay in your system a while. 

For the best results in athletic performance, experts suggest consuming between 3 to 9 mg of caffeine per kilogram about 30 to 60 minutes before your athletic event. For a 150-pound person, that’s about 200 to 600 mg of coffee. A typical cup of coffee comes in at about 120 mg of caffeine. If your event is longer than an hour in duration—we’re looking at you, marathon runners—you might want to supplement your caffeine intake with caffeinated sports gels, which can contain 20 to 30 mg of caffeine each. 

Stewarts Performance Blend for athletes

Crush your next workout or chase a new personal record with Stewarts Performance Blend. This blend has 2X the caffeine of the average cup of coffee—helping you get to the optimal caffeine dose more easily. Stewarts Performance Blend is 100% coffee—no added preservatives, additives, or supplements. Stewarts Performance Blend is prepared to perfection, optimizing every milligram of caffeine extracted out of the coffee bean.

About Stewarts Coffee

Stewarts Coffee was established in 1913 by William A. Stewart on Chicago’s West Side—and for 100+ years has made some of America’s best coffee as the city’s oldest family-owned coffee company. This tradition dates back to the 1930s when Stewarts Private Blend Coffee was chosen as the “Official World’s Fair Coffee” during the Century of Progress World’s Fair held in Chicago. Today Stewarts’ passion to serve fine coffees and teas has employees traveling the world to bring customers the very best. Learn more at

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Joey Cappuccitti On 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand

An Interview With Martita Mestey

Stewarts is our brand and we have been blessed to have the opportunity to continue a legacy started by a different family. But us Cappuccitti’s share the same passion for the Stewarts mission.

As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joey Cappuccitti.

With a large background in automotive and a strong passion for the coffee industry, I am expanding my experiences in management to the food and beverage industry to better my skills in organization, communication, and performance.

Through my experiences in both retail and service, I learned both good and bad management habits from different managers around the country. Leaving me with better skills and habits to enhance my own future management styles.

My goal is to build a platform that will grow long past my lifetime and give many the opportunity to work for a place that has a great story and amazing people.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

Sure! Very grateful for an active childhood growing up in the NW suburbs of Chicago. I’m one of 4 siblings….the older middle sibling. We are a big sports family and as little ones, we played everything. T-ball, basketball, hockey, and soccer. My brother and I played soccer and hockey competitively but enjoyed playing all sports.

Around 14 or so years old, sports took us to charity events like Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. At the time, my dad had been with Stewarts Coffee for over 15 years. We shared a passion for attending charity events, so he went out and had a serving truck built out of an old UPS truck. We’d bring that truck out and have fun at the events serving coffee for attendees and that started my journey with Stewarts!

Throughout high school, we attended numerous Relay for Life events and many more charity events spread across the city. The Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle were two of the largest events we’ve done! Those were fun. So many people!

I grew up loving cars. So, when it came to picking a college, I decided on using that passion to complete a bachelor’s in business but focused to the automotive industry. I didn’t know where the degree would take me, but I knew the mechanical background along with the management education would help in the future.

Timing was everything and towards the end of college my dad orchestrated the big move. With the help of my younger brother and a few of his friends, they successfully moved Stewarts out of city limits to Carol Stream where we are now. And after I graduated, Stewarts Coffee presented itself and my dad and I decided to take a chance to bring Stewarts to new heights.

Can you share with us the story of the “ah ha” moment that led to the creation of the food or beverage brand you are leading?

My ‘ah ha’ moment was the moment I realized my purpose here. I’m sitting at school trying to figure out employment after graduation. As all my classmates are investigating positions in the automotive industry, I’m sitting there thinking, “I’d be stupid not to join my dad in accepting the challenge of taking a 100+ year old legacy like Stewarts Coffee and continuing its evolution as our own.” Many students end up working in a different industry than the one they studied, why couldn’t that be me? Take my knowledge from what I’ve learned in the Automotive industry and apply those concepts to the coffee industry. Who would have thought, repairing engines was preparing me for building coffee roasting and packing systems. Not me, but here we are!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well… I was rushing our K-cup designs and I didn’t fully inspect the final artwork. When we received our printed K-cups in the mail, my dad walked into my office with a box and asked, “Oh yeah? 12oz of coffee in each K-Cup?”

I messed up and every K-cup box that was supposed to say 10 grams had printed “Net weight 12oz (each K-cup).” I learned to you can never have enough people review your artwork.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a food or beverage line? What can be done to avoid those errors?

There are so many mistakes one can make so I’ll just touch on a couple.

  1. PLAN — Have a plan, not just an idea. So many have coffee ideas but haven’t thought about materials and where to get those, or shipping and what carrier they would use, or even who they are going to sell it to.
  2. If you have a plan in place, it’ll be easier for you to approach future complications and jump through those hoops to reach your end goal.
  3. SIMPLER IS BETTER — It’s so easy to do too much too fast and find yourself in over your head. Sometimes you’re so excited about an idea you just want to go all in. But realistically you need to break it down and go one step at a time.
  4. Just like a puzzle, you can’t just lay the pieces out and have the puzzle magically fall into place. You must put one piece down at a time. Before you know it, you’ve completed your goal!

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to produce. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Put a detailed plan together and TAKE. YOUR. TIME. Some things will come to you when you’re not even thinking about your idea. Write a plan on how everything will work. Ask as many questions to yourself as you can and answer them down to the smallest detail. Talk to people about it. Answer their questions. At the end you won’t just have a bunch of information, you’ll have useful information that will provide you criticism to progress!

Many people have good ideas all the time. But some people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How would you encourage someone to overcome this hurdle?

Everyone has the same opportunity. It’s just the ones who stay persistent that come out on the other side. Put a plan together and have a way to explain your idea in 60 seconds. Share your ideas with many, choose your conversations wisely. Work with individuals you trust and careful how much information you share with individuals you’re less trustworthy with. People do steal ideas. As much as we want to trust everyone, there are those people out there.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

I would say it depends on the idea. If it’s an invention that may require a patent or some type of legal work done, yes a consultant would be useful.

If it is just a business idea, in most cases you can get away without a consultant. But I must say, it is always good to bounce ideas off one another. Sometimes you can get stuck in tunnel vision and another perspective can expand your understanding.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Bootstrapping is the logical way to begin. Use your own immediate resources to get the ball rolling and opportunities for venture capital will present themselves with the right individuals you end up marketing with about your endeavor.

Can you share thoughts from your experience about how to file a patent, how to source good raw ingredients, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer or distributor?

A patent can be easily filed with a patent attorney. They will inform you of any hoops to jump through to complete the task.

As for sourcing quality partners, this is 100% based on your ability to observe and be a good judge of character and personality. 9 times out of 10 this is trial and error and why so many businesses enter and leave partnerships. There is no perfect partnership. You will always have some hiccups. But what matters is do your partners have good morals and good business practice. If they do, you will be able to work through most complications that arise.

Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand” and why?

A Brand — a name for consumers to know you by.

Stewarts is our brand and we have been blessed to have the opportunity to continue a legacy started by a different family. But us Cappuccitti’s share the same passion for the Stewarts mission.

A Mission — build a brand bigger than yourself.

Stewarts hasn’t been here 100+ years because management was cool. Stewarts is still here because they built a strong community that continues to show its support for each other every year.

A Crew — You can’t do it alone.

Every day I learn more and more about delegating work and working as a team. There are others that are better at a specific task than you are, use their strengths to help everyone reach the end goal.

Good Partners — Don’t be afraid to leave a partnership.

At the end of the day, if a partner makes your business harder or is offering your business a disservice, you should consider meeting other business to see if there is a better fit. Good partnerships lead to smooth operations with brings happy employees and happy customers.

Good environment — You can tell how a business treats their employees by the cleanliness of their bathrooms/breakroom and the taste of their coffee! Too many places don’t allow music, or 15min breaks. The environment is as happy and fun as you make it. You take care of your employees, and they take care of you.

Can you share your ideas about how to create a product that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?

Answer a question that the consumers have, and the product will sell! For example, Flavored coffee. People liked the idea of flavored coffee but didn’t like that the milk was flavored. What did they do? Someone made coffee beans that were flavored before you brew it. And now consumers can use natural milk with flavored coffee.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We do a lot of charity work for various awareness causes. We attend their public events for different communities and donate our time serving coffee to attendees.

We took it a step further and developed an entire coffee brand called Project Donate Coffee that focuses on donating proceeds from various coffee bags to awareness causes of all. We couple bags with specific awareness causes so when a bag is purchased about 40% of that sale is donated to that specific awareness cause you picked. You get great coffee, and the most important thing is that the proceeds are donated to those who need it most.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d want nothing more than for Project Donate Coffee (PDC) to become a huge success. It’s honestly unknown how much good the program can do. We went from 1 bag to 6+ bags rather quickly! Started with Trigeminal Neuralgia, then Alzheimer’s, ALS, Kids and Clays, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Rett Syndrome, Parkinson’s, Autism, and patiently waiting for so much more!

The math speaks for itself. Coffee is the 2nd or 3rd most consumed liquid on the planet. 75% of American adults drink coffee daily and will spend an average of about $2100 every year. Coffee drinkers could potentially donate an average of 600+ dollars every year if they did something as simple as switch their coffee to PDC. And if we got even 1/10th of that coffee drinking population to drink PDC we could potentially hit billions in donations. That’s powerful stuff. There’s a saying that’s something like, “A man who moves mountains begins by moving small pebbles.”

I’m just trying to build that platform to unite the American coffee community to start moving those small pebbles. Like I said, it’s unknown what good this program’s future can do, but together, we might be able to move mountains.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Caffeine on a Mission: The Story of Stewarts Red Eye

Long-distance flights. Secret missions. All-night strategy sessions. These and more are part of serving our country. But even the most dedicated and seasoned military personnel in the line of duty are still human—and can get sleepy. 

It’s the reason why, in 1945, United States armed forces personnel requested a special Stewarts Coffee blend under private contract. The goal: to keep United States Military and Air Force members awake and alert for extended periods of time. 

Think about it: World War II was still going on, as the Allies fought Japan in the Pacific. World powers were locked in conflict, and the stakes for missions were higher than ever before. Our military personnel needed every edge to be alert, with fast reaction times and precise reflexes. 

Caffeine Use in the Armed Forces

Enter caffeine, the most commonly used drug in the world. In fact, nearly two-thirds of US adults drink at least one cup of coffee a day, and 90% of us consume caffeine daily in coffee, tea, and soda. Caffeine makes us alert and gives us an edge. That’s why we drink it first thing in the morning, use it to stave off the 2:00 pm slump, or drink a cup of coffee when we need to pull an all-nighter.

Caffeine has this superpower because it blocks a naturally occurring chemical in our brains called adenosine. Adenosine slows our actions and thoughts when it’s time to rest. Caffeine, though, essentially flips adenosine’s “off” switch and gives us that snappy, get-up-and-go feeling. 

Civilians aren’t the only ones consuming caffeine—a recent study has shown that nearly 85% of US military personnel also consume caffeine daily from coffee and other caffeinated beverages (and findings show that Air Force personnel consume more than the average across the combined Armed Forces). 

The benefits of caffeine include increased alertness, elevated mood, and better cognitive performance for soldiers on both desk duty and the battlefield. It’s about being ready for anything, at any time.

A history of caffeine use in the military

Our 1945 private contract is part of a long tradition of caffeine use by soldiers and military personnel. Coffee was one of the four staples for American Civil War soldiers, along with beef, beans, and hardtack. In Britain in 1942, Winston Churchill declared that tea was more important than ammunition to his soldiers. Meanwhile, the German war office stocked tons of kola nuts, based on their longtime use by African warriors in keeping them alert. And, on this side of the pond, coffee was briefly rationed during WWII so that soldiers could get enough. 

Given this history of caffeine use, it makes sense that we developed a bold brew to keep military personnel awake and ready to take action at any time. The twist is that it was so popular—and received such rave reviews—that we began to manufacture the blend for the American people. Today it’s known as Stewarts Red Eye…serious brew with attitude. 

In the nearly 80 years since the war, caffeine has continued to be essential for those in the line of duty. Today, the US military gives soldiers caffeinated items in their meals-ready-to-eat (MREs), including beef jerky, soft drinks, maple syrup, mints, and gum. Of course, you’ll always find plenty of coffee drinkers serving our country. 

Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches on May 29, we take a moment to remember and honor those who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces. We are grateful for their service and sacrifice to our country. 

Stewarts Red Eye

Now that you know the story of Stewarts Red Eye, we hope you’ll enjoy the blend, no matter where your mission in life takes you. You can find Stewarts Red Eye in stores or order online

About Stewarts Coffee

Stewarts Coffee was established in 1913 by William A. Stewart on Chicago’s West Side—and for 100+ years has made some of America’s best coffee as the city’s oldest family-owned coffee company. This tradition dates back to the 1930s when Stewarts Private Blend Coffee was chosen as the “Official World’s Fair Coffee” during the Century of Progress World’s Fair held in Chicago. Today Stewarts’ passion to serve fine coffees and teas has employees traveling the world to bring customers the very best. Learn more at